As I’m contemplating what it means to dominate someone, I look around at the phenomenal women I work with, and begin to have some idea. What does it take to do something the majority of society frowns upon and/or views as compromising and immoral? It takes a thick skin and a sense of confidence that comes from within, not without. Translation: strength that nobody can take away.
I’ve been looking for inspiration to stop looking to others for permission–I need to trust my instincts and finish projects, find ways to fuel my confidence and waken the muse on my own. H was talking to me about needing more than ideas, needing actions, or rather he said “brain cells are great, but you need other kinds of cells too.” He said, “Why haven’t you published a book yet?” I said “Do you know how many rejections I’ve gotten? It’s not for lack of trying.” “If nobody wants to publish it, why haven’t you published one yourself?”
This is a tough question. I actually have the opportunity to self-publish books, should I finish one that I can fully get behind. A mentor from the southern school I attended offered to publish whatever I send him under his imprint; I just have to finish something. When h talks about it, though, he means actually making the books by hand, which sounds like a lovely, engaging task. It has me wanting to revisit my thesis, find things worth taking.
I think I have much to learn from my new job. Clearly I need to continue examining my beliefs. Figuring out which of my inhibitions come from wisdom and which from fear. It all comes down to: what brings me pleasure without hurting others, and how can I be good to others? And often the two overlap.
Being with c and h, and having such an amazing group of friends and allies, like my a’s in the city, and my erstwhile neighbors, m and my new york lovelies, and now my dom ladies, is helping me find the courage to believe that I have something worth saying, and the capacity to communicate it well.
On my last shift, one of the mistresses and I beat a thin, silver-haired man with various implements, including a wooden spoon, a leather flogger, a rattan cane, a heart-shaped paddle, and something called a “dragon-tail” whip.
“If you hit one area repeatedly with the cane,” she told me, “it bruises up re-a-ally nicely. Especially if you follow up with something flat, like the paddle.”
We tested her hypothesis, raising a be-a-autiful dark red welt all down his thigh to go with the various little streaks and marks on his ass and back. He yelped and twitched, which prompted me to stop but my mistress continued, saying, “You know your safe words, don’t you?” “Yes,” he would whimper. In other words: keep going. He whimpered “yellow” only three times (“are you showing off for Mistress Joycebird?” the mistress asked, to which our “slave” answered “maybe a little, mistress”) and I repeatedly admired how well he was taking it. It confused me at first that sometimes they want verbal humiliation and sometimes they don’t; “Does baby like that?” I cooed once, looking up to see the session mistress shaking her head and frowning slightly. “No one cares what baby likes, here,” she said. “Baby does what mommy says. Isn’t that right, baby?”
H made an offhand comment the other day about people who are attracted to BDSM being, on the whole, a bit messed up. I think seeing the BDSM cage at Burning Man was the first time I decided to get rid of the last vestiges of that kind of belief; but coming in to the business I had done no real work to prepare myself for the lingering associations my brain has with certain images, with certain prejudices. Now when I spoke up to defend our clients and the community as a whole, I spoke with confidence–“that’s a common misconception,” I told him. “Actually people want to be dominated for a range of reasons. It’s easy to write them off as freaks or something, but most people have at least one propensity or another that could be categorized as ‘abnormal.'”
Same goes for sex workers–it’s easy to make snap judgments about the motivation and the mindset of women who work in the adult industry, but there are as many stories as there are women, and most of them aren’t the stereotypical sob story you might expect–or if they began that way, the fairytale ending didn’t involve some dramatic renouncement of their career, but typically a partner as supportive of their career as they are of the other choices they make in pursuit of their own happiness.
I know some will scoff at this comparison, but hear me out: just as many of the classic male authors of the past century (think Hemingway, Faulkner and Salinger) illuminate the trenches of war, just as they tread the boundaries of what violence modern humanity may openly indulge in and return to tell the tale, powerful female authors often march at the front lines of sexual empowerment, another edge of human existence, and return with a great desire for peace, a great striving to reconcile the spiritual and the physical (think Plath, Chopin, Woolf). Just as we’re gradually coming around to valuing each human life because we recognize that we are essentially all the same and thus what benefits one of us benefits all of us (though there are still plenty of holdouts for staunch, I’ll-take-care-of-mine, you-go-fuck-yourself individualism), seeing each human’s sexuality as a precious and highly personal aspect of themselves will be a huge step in our collective empathy, and we’ll all have the dignity and openness to be indulgent towards our own and one another’s eccentricities, sexual or otherwise.
The fewer people we can write off, or rather, the fewer reasons we allow ourselves to stop prioritizing the humanity of another over lesser concerns (such as being right or getting your way), the better. If everyone operates by demonizing people whose lifestyles they can’t understand, and defending the people who are ideologically similar to them from the consequences of their misdeeds, that leads to a pretty large sector of society actively aiding and abetting the corrupt while condemning each other for the same exact thing–leaving the friendless and powerless to bear the brunt of all of society’s sins and mistakes.
It’s not midnight yet, so technically I’ve kept my promise, but we both know I didn’t mean “by midnight” when I said I would post on Tuesday and Friday. Internet, I’ll do better next week.